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Sara Dornsife – Profiles in Courage – RedMonk Radio 059

Look who I ran into at SJC!

While at barcampAustin this year, my pal Zane Rockenbaugh (Dog Food Software) and I recorded a series of interviews with barcampAustin and SXSW attendees and friends. We dubbed it Profiles in Courage, and now they’re yours to enjoy.

Download the episode directly here, subscribe to the RedMonk Radio podcast feed to have it automatically downloaded to iTunes or other podcatcher, or just click play below to listen to it right here:

Rise of Community Marketing

In the fifth episode of Profiles in Courage, barcampAustin edition, Zane and I talk with Sara Dornsife, self-professed Community Marketing Geek.

With a title like that, I ask Sara to tell us about a recent blog entry of hers describing the bloating of the marketing role as represented by job postings: doing traditional marketing and comms, community management, open source, events, and everything else. Sara says this is probably due to consolidation in jobs, companies cutting back and combining jobs together.

What Community Marketing Does

Blindly feeling out the elephant more, I ask Sara to tell us about the day-to-day activities of Community Marketing. It centers around “scaling up” community interactions; that is, figuring out moving beyond one-on-one interactions in the community of users for a product, service, etc. We compare these efforts to traditional marketing and advertising tacticts, where broadcast mediums seem to be of lessoning effectiveness.

Open Source Lessons Learned

Earlier that morning, Sara and I had both been on the SXSW panel, “Lessons Learned from Open Source.” We discuss what we discussed in that panel: namely, that open source a business model, on it’s own, isn’t too whiz-bang beyond acquisition exists. Zane asks if and how open source is used for marketing value.

We further discuss open source as a business model: my quip that you make money off open source by selling closed source; the troubling paradox of software quality and selling support; open source driving down costs & commodifying “over-priced” markets.

Doing a barcamp

Switching to conferences and events, since Sara was one of the main organizers for barcampAustin, I ask her what goes into unconferences like barcampAustin. “Not a lot of sleep,” she says. To hear Sara tell it, most of the work was done in the 8 days prior to the event, including booking Paradox (“18 and up welcome!”), rounding up sponsors, and more.

Picking the venue drives much of the format: the number of rooms you have in your venue determines how many sessions you can have at once, which, of course, determines how many sessions you have. The costs are low because people volunteer and sponsors donate all sorts of drinks and burritos. Sara estimates that barcampAustin was at about $25,000 for a 24 hour event.

Why do a barcamp?

The question, then, is why do this? For Sara, this is the kind of event she would be arranging in her role as Community Marketer, not to mention that she likes the local barcamp guy, whurley, and simply enjoys putting together and attending the event.

I ask her how she’d sell barcamps to corporations. The pay-back, for the cheap price, is a bucket of whuffie (good will and social capital) and an audience that’s more passionate than passive. The lack of “the corporate smell,” Sara says, brings higher quality attendees.

Categories: Community, Conferences, Marketing, Open Source, RedMonk Radio Podcast.